Live from Sport and Business

Sport for Business reported Live throughout the day from the Irish Sports Council seminar on ‘Sport and Business – Shared Learning for Success’. Our output included an interview with Katie Taylor and special presentations from Matt English of Special Olympics Ireland on engaging stakeholders and Billy Walsh of Irish Boxing on how the success of the Irish team was built from camp bed to Olympic Podium.

Launch of the Irish Sports Council Challenge 2013 (click for details)

An Interview with Katie Taylor

On the Olympics… “We were worried at first that the Irish crowd would not be heard over the home fans.  When I went out first I couldn’t believe it.”

“I was there ten days before my first fight and the expectation was so high that the pressure really was huge.”

“There was great support form home, from my family and from the Sports Council.  That helped me to get through.”

“We knew what we had to do.  I had great sparring partners in the run up to the Games.”

On the gap before the announcement.. “I thought I’d done enough but you never know how the judges are scoring so really it was the longest moment of my life.”

On life since the Olympics.. “It was not a hard decision to stay in the amateur game.  Now it’s all about reinventing myself and finding new ways to improve and push on.  I feel I am a better boxer now than in the Olympics and hopefully the best is yet to come.”

“The dream is to become a two time Olympic Champion”

Do you ever have a bad day?.. “Oh sure.  When you’re sparring six days a week some will be better than others.  There are times when I just want to stay in bed but those are in many ways the most important in terms of getting out and getting the job done.”

How can you encourage girls to stay involved?.. “I always had a dream and great support from home so I never minded what other people would say about it being such a male dominated sport.  It’s not always easy but you just need to keep going.”

On coaching.. “I don’t think I’d have the patience.  I’ll leave that to my Dad.”

On rising standards in women’s boxing in Ireland.. “Some of the girls fighting now at 14 and 15 are just great.  When I came through there were hardly any girls boxing but now hopefully in a few years time the young girls will be fighting at European, World and Olympic level.”

How do you distract yourself between sessions?.. “Mostly I sleep! the odd bit of music and sometimes I go to the movies or something like that.”

“On the day of a fight I stick to the same routine.  I read the same verses from the bible and would listen to the same songs, most of them worship songs but I like a bit of everything.”

“My Dad likes Tom Jones but that’s his thing I suppose.”

On the relationship with her Dad.. “When we’re in the gym he’s my coach.  At home we don’t talk about boxing though. We have a great relationship and I don’t think I make it hard for him.”

Thanks to Paul McDermott of the Irish Sports Council who posed the questions.


Mike Farrell, Siemens Healthcare on Business Process Improvement

“LEAN is all about eliminating wasteful practices and improving business fitness.”

“Waste can be defined as any activity which an informed customer would not be willing to pay because it does not add value to what they are getting.”

“Principles arose from Toyota in post war Japan where Just in Time was essential with so little resource available.”

“Identify value – Map the Value Stream – Eliminate Waste – Create Pull – Continuously improve.”

“Generally every business process will have 75% waste. The challenge is to identify it and fix it.  Up to 90% of the delivery of change will rely on buy in from those on the front line.”

“Four stages of denial, fear, acceptance and commitment need to be gone through before a positive impact of the changes will be felt.”

“Visualisation is key.  You should not have to walk three metres or search two seconds before you find information that you need to fulfil a task.

To read more on engagement of stakeholders from Matt English of Special Olympics Ireland; on the process of taking Irish Boxing from camp bed to podium from Billy Walsh; and on organisational change from Paul Mooney, you need to be signed in as a member.

[ismember]Matt English, CEO Special Olympics on engagement and motivation

“Motivation is stimulating the energy and desire to achieve a goal.” “A stronger bond can be sought through engaged employees or stakeholders who are in the game for the sake of the game.  It’s a strong differentiator and leads to pride and loyalty that is not easily deflected.”

“Important to know and explain clearly what we do, who we do it for and why we do it.”

“10,800 athletes and 24, 300 volunteers engaged in Special Olympics. 17 new clubs set up in 2012 alone.”

“Communication is vital to engagement.  We produce a monthly ezine, put a lot of effort into social media, bring meetings around the country to engage locally.”

“Recognition costs little but is of immense value.  Marking achievement and anniversaries.  Those who have represented Ireland at Special Olympics games have been given official caps by the FAI and you cannot put a value on what that means to our athletes.”

“Relationships developed with PSNI and others are hugely important in building engagement.  We do similar with Johnson and Johnson, Eircom and RSA Insurance that involve staff and organisations and really strike a chord.

“We place great emphasis on involving our own staff with an information and team building day.  It even included preparing meals for elephants at Dublin Zoo.”

“Special Olympics will be involved with the Irish Sports Council Challenge in May 2012.”

“So important to engage with volunteers.  The average age of the volunteers in our support centre in Dublin is 71.  There is room for everyone that wants to be involved.”


Paul Mooney, Specialist in Personal and Organisational Change

1. Critical point is identifying the ‘shark’ and the ‘minnow’ issues in an organisation.  If you work on the few elements that make a real difference then you will make progress.

2. Identify the mission of what your organisation is all about.  What is the ultimate end goal in terms of performance, participation or other aspects.  Creating a powerful emotionally engaging mission statement sounds almost ‘quasi religious’ but is actually a strong motivator for individuals that make up the organisation.

3. The idea of executive coaching is only about 20 years old.  Sporting analogy of the best sports performers in the world not being afraid to use a coach to become even better. Use of ‘pinpointing’ to deliver real benefit to managers in specific circumstances.

4. Management team building is crucial in terms of lowering the ‘political barrier’ that exists in business and especially within the NGO sector.

5. If people see their own fingerprints on an idea, they are much more likely to buy into what is being proposed and support it. Need to get away from the idea that “management is inspired and the workers are the perspired.”

6. Create a score card for management and all other stakeholders as appropriate.  The better balanced in terms of multiple points of contact, the stronger it will be as a guide to how you’re doing and how you can improve.

7. Organisational structure is important.  Ambiguity leads to anxiety and lessened performance.  Everybody that can should devote themselves to ‘fog clearance’.

Billy Walsh, Head Coach, IABA High Performance Unit

Recognition that we have to achieve from within in order to build more of a presence on the world boxing stage.

“We had to look inwards to determine the best way forward.”

“Physically, technically, tactically we were killed at a training camp in Moscow.”

“Came back and tore up the training manual.  We started by buying blow up beds to sleep on the floor because the B&B down the road was €40 abd we did not have that money.  We had to eefect a complete change of mindset.”

“We removed all excuses and adopted a professional approach inside and outside the gym.”

“People have to come first. Performance will follow.”

“The Team is crucial to what we are about.”

“The Champion to be found was not outside. We had to find it from within.  Our aim was to move step by step from good to great.”

“Round by round, minute by minute, we broke down every aspect of preparation and performance in order to improve it.”

“We gathered intelligence from the best around the world, looked at the focus and the intensity they brought to training. Now Russia and Ukraine won’t let us in anymore because they are wary of what we achieve.”

“Our identity was crucial.  How we look, how we talk, how we behave.  Everything was intended to make us seem like warriors and winners, before we entered the ring.”

“Empowering our boxers to decide and think for themselves created a mindset of leadership in the heat of battle.”

“There is no short cut to building excellence.  No way other than total commitment.”[/ismember]

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